Today is the first day of Epiphany--a season in the Church that lasts until Lent, which leads us to Easter. If you are a church-nerd like me, the months of November to April are easily the most action-packed when it comes to church-y stuff.
But there was a time when I didn't pay all that much attention to the seasons of the Church. I had this negative mindset about Church tradition. I was under the mistaken impression that tradition keeps us mired in the past. I was all about what was happening now, what the Holy Spirit was doing in the present.
Then I read this quote by theologian G.K. Chesterton that went something like this: "Tradition is the democracy of the dead."
In other words, to discount entirely what the saints of yesteryear contributed to our understanding of what it means to be Christian is foolhardy. They get a vote. And those votes mean something -- what I've come to understand is that Church traditions that point us in the right direction are ones that we need to lift up and hold on to for dear life.
Epiphany is a season that points us in the right direction. It's a time when we reflect on the surprising nature of God's revelation to humankind through his Son, Jesus. It's a season that begins with the story of the Magi, and their visit to the Christ child after seeing a star. It moves us through the Baptism of our Lord, the wedding feast of Cana... and so much more.
During Epiphany, we are challenged to glimpse the unique nature of Jesus. We are confronted with the new reality that Jesus represents--a reality within which God has shown us the great lengths God will go to rescue us from ourselves. A reality demonstrated by Kings bringing gifts to a homeless baby.
The words of the Magi speak to us today on this first day of this blessed season of surprise and recognition. "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
I don't adhere all that much to "bumper sticker" theology, but I saw a bumper sticker once that read, "Wise men still seek him." That preaches. And I think that on this first day of Epiphany it preaches directly to you and to me.
May you spend these next days and weeks searching for Jesus, recognizing him, experiencing his uniqueness. May you discover not only who Jesus is to you, but who Jesus is to the world.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.